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SEC proposal to modernize information collection

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed rules amendments designed to modernize its information collection and analysis methods by, among other things, proposing that a number of filings be submitted to the Commission electronically on EDGAR using structured data where appropriate.

Under current rules, registrants are required to file or otherwise submit many Exchange Act forms, filings, or other submissions in paper form. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many submissions were made in electronic rather than paper form, which was generally well received. As part of its efforts to modernize the methods by which it collects and analyzes information from registrants, the proposed amendments would require registrants to make these submissions to the Commission electronically.

The proposed amendments would require the electronic filing, submission, or posting of certain forms, filings, and other submissions that national securities exchanges, national securities associations, clearing agencies, broker-dealers, security-based swap dealers, and major security-based swap participants make with the Commission. The proposed amendments would also make certain amendments regarding the Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single (“FOCUS”) Report to harmonize it with other rules, make technical corrections, and provide clarifications. In addition, the proposed amendments would require withdrawal of notices filed in connection with an exception to counting certain dealing transactions toward determining whether a person is a security-based swap dealer in specified circumstances.

The public comment period will remain open for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register or until May 22, 2023, whichever is later.


FTC seeks info on cloud computing provider practices

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that its staff are seeking information on the business practices of cloud computing providers including issues related to the market power of these companies, impact on competition, and potential security risks.

In a Request for Information, FTC staff are seeking information about the competitive dynamics of cloud computing, the extent to which certain segments of the economy are reliant on cloud service providers, and the security risks associated with the industry’s business practices. In addition to the potential impact on competition and data security, FTC staff are also interested in the impact of cloud computing on specific industries including healthcare, finance, transportation, e-commerce, and defense.

Comments will be accepted through May 22, 2023.


Iran's UAV and weapons procurement network sanctioned

OFAC, in coordination with the FBI, has designated four entities and three individuals in Iran and Turkey for their involvement in the procurement of equipment, including European-origin engines of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in support of Iran’s UAV and weapons programs. This procurement network operates on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), which oversees several firms involved in UAV and ballistic missile development.

For the names and identification information of the designated parties, see this BankersOnline OFAC Update.


New HUD ConnectHomeUSA guidebook to broadband funding

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced the availability of ConnectHomeUSA Guide to New Broadband Funding for HUD-Assisted Communities, a new guidebook for states and organizations to consider when deploying high-speed Internet service projects. The guide will help Public Housing Authorities, Multifamily Owners and Operators, and Tribes understand the mechanics of these two programs and the role they can play in ensuring that funds come to their neighborhoods – both urban and rural.


Fed announces FedNow Service launch plan

The Federal Reserve has announced that its FedNow Service will start operating in July and provided details on preparations for launch.

The first week of April, the Federal Reserve will begin the formal certification of participants for launch of the service. Early adopters will complete a customer testing and certification program, informed by feedback from the FedNow Pilot Program, to prepare for sending live transactions through the system.

The Federal Reserve Banks are developing the FedNow Service to facilitate nationwide reach of instant payment services by financial institutions — regardless of size or geographic location — around the clock, every day of the year. Through financial institutions participating in the FedNow Service, businesses and individuals will be able to send and receive instant payments at any time of day, and recipients will have full access to funds immediately, giving them greater flexibility to manage their money and make time-sensitive payments. Access will be provided through the Federal Reserve's FedLine® network, which serves more than 10,000 financial institutions directly or through their agents.


FTC acts to block merger of mortgage loan tech providers

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced it is acting to block the proposed merger between the nation’s largest provider of home mortgage loan origination systems and other key lender software tools, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE), and its top competitor, Black Knight, Inc. The Commission stated the deal would drive up costs, reduce innovation, and reduce lenders’ choices for tools necessary to generate and service mortgages.

ICE’s Encompass LOS competes head-to-head with Black Knight’s Empower, and the two companies offer discounts and price concessions to win or protect business from each other, according to the FTC’s complaint. In addition to competing on price, ICE and Black Knight compete to attract LOS customers by offering the best and broadest array of mortgage origination related services integrated with their respective LOSs.

By eliminating Black Knight as a competitor, the deal would free ICE to more aggressively raise prices that it charges mortgage lenders for origination services, the FTC said. Internal ICE documents reflect its use of several “levers” to grow revenue, including price increases to Encompass customers, according to the FTC’s complaint.


ARP funds to connect South Carolina homes and businesses

Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced the approval of broadband projects in South Carolina under the Capital Projects Fund in the American Rescue Plan. The state estimates it will use its funding to connect over 31,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.


Hsu discusses trust in global banking and lessons for crypto

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu yesterday discussed building and maintaining trust in global banking in remarks at the Institute for International Bankers.

Hsu discussed how the failure of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in 1991 led to significant changes in how global banks are supervised. He highlighted similarities between BCCI and cryptocurrency exchange FTX and offered thoughts on what lessons this may hold for crypto advocates and policymakers.

“To be trustworthy, global crypto firms need a lead regulator who has authority and responsibility over the enterprise as a whole,” said Acting Comptroller Hsu. “Until that is done, crypto firms with subsidiaries and operations in multiple jurisdictions will be able to arbitrage local regulations and potentially play shell games using inter-affiliate transactions to obfuscate and mask their true risk profile.”

He also shared his support for implementing enhanced regulatory capital requirements that align with the final set of Basel III standards.


FDIC Consumer News on banks' disability services

The March 2023 edition of FDIC Consumer News focuses on bank services for customers with disabilities, including digital banking apps, special accounts, and accessibility services. Featured articles include one on the FDIC's How Money Smart Are You? suite of games and related resources about everyday financial topics, including materials for individuals with disabilities and their caretakers to consider in managing their finances. There is also a series of criteria for customers to consider when shopping for a bank that meets their individual needs, and a description of Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) bank accounts.

Other topics including financing options to pay for home modifications or assistive devices, and avoiding financial exploitation and abuse.


National Cybersecurity Strategy

The Biden-Harris Administration has released the National Cybersecurity Strategy to secure the full benefits of a safe and secure digital ecosystem for all Americans. In this decisive decade, the United States will reimagine cyberspace as a tool to achieve our goals in a way that reflects our values: economic security and prosperity; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; trust in our democracy and democratic institutions; and an equitable and diverse society. To realize this vision, we must make fundamental shifts in how the United States allocates roles, responsibilities, and resources in cyberspace by:

  • Rebalancing the responsibility to defend cyberspace by shifting the burden for cybersecurity away from individuals, small businesses, and local governments, and onto the organizations that are most capable and best-positioned to reduce risks for all of us
  • Realigning incentives to favor long-term investments by striking a careful balance between defending ourselves against urgent threats today and simultaneously strategically planning for and investing in a resilient future


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